A 30-year old snowboard instructor, died Thursday after hitting a tree at the Buttermilk Mountain ski area. The instructor was off-duty, but in uniform. He was described as “going fast” when he collided with a tree in a small tree island on the Columbine run on the lower half of Buttermilk. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered head trauma.
The intermediate Columbine trail is under the Summit Express lift. The trail had been groomed Wednesday night. A passenger on the Summit Express lift witnessed the accident at 12:22 p.m. and called for help within a minute. A ski patroller, who is also a paramedic, happened to be skiing down the hill and reached Polk within seconds of the call.
This is the first ski or snowboard in-bounds fatality this season at one of the four SkiCo ski areas. However, a former patroller on Aspen Mountain, was killed in an avalanche just outside the ski area boundary on Dec. 14. And a SkiCo snowmaker also died after hitting a tree on Snowmass Ski Area on Dec. 5 but he was driving a snowmobile at the time.
There have been at least four other fatal accidents in-bounds at Colorado ski areas this season. On Dec. 13, a 28-year-old-man died after an accident on an intermediate trail at the Keystone ski area. On Jan. 6, a 22-year-old man from Oklahoma hit a wooden post at the Breckenridge ski area while snowboarding. He later died from his head injuries. A 65-year-old woman from Arrowhead died from her injuries after hitting a hydrant on Jan. 16 while skiing at Beaver Creek. And on Feb. 3, a 55-year-old man from Connecticut died after skiing into a tree at in the Prospect Bowl area at the Telluride ski area.